Pearl S. Buck

Fighting Angel

Fighting Angel: Portrait of a Soul is Pearl S. Buck’s profoundly touching memoir of her zealous Southern Presbyterian missionary father, Absalom Sydenstricker. Andrew (as he is called in the book) set off for China in 1880 and spent most of the next half century there until his death in 1931. From isolated settlements in the poor, hostile interior, he made long preaching trips through lands convulsed by famine, banditry, and revolution.
Sydenstricker was a tragic Captain Ahab figure whose life’s work brought only a trickle of converts. His battles against church authorities — he was ahead of his time in wanting local Christians to be given greater power and in pushing for vernacular Chinese texts — meant ostracism by his colleagues and superiors. Above all, his fanatical devotion brought death and suffering to his family.
Fighting Angel, which was published in late 1936, is a companion biography to Buck’s loving portrait of her mother, The Exile: Portrait of an American Mother, published earlier that year. Both books won great popular and critical success. When, in 1938, Pearl S. Buck became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, it was not only “for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China” but also “for her biographical masterpieces.” Fighting Angel is a more balanced biography and the superior of the pair. In fact, in her acclaimed Burying the Bones, Pearl biographer Hilary Spurling ranks Fighting Angel after The Good Earth as “probably the best book Pearl ever wrote,” praising the memoir for its “combination of cool, sharp, scrutinizing intelligence and passionate emotion.”
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Camphor Press Ltd, Eastbridge Books



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